I have a question for you inspired by one of my favorite (non-dev) podcasts, On Being.
It's about spirituality and whether it plays a role in your life as a developer. Here goes:
What is your spiritual or religious background and how has it changed since your childhood? How does it feed into your life as a dev (if at all?).
It's something I've been thinking about a LOT for, well, years. I've written about it before on my blog, but I've been going deeper into the question this year since I started a two year long training in mindfulness and compassion.
I've had to get very familiar with the original Buddhist teachings on meditation.
Now, I don't consider myself religious, yet it's undeniable Buddhism is practiced as a religion in many parts of the world (I tend to have a more philosophical relationship with a secular, Westernized version of it).
I'm grew up in Catholic Ireland, and went through a process of questioning and rejecting that faith during my teenage years. I studied physics at university and make a living trying to get (largely) deterministic machines to do rational things.
I am, more or less, a rationalist with a materialistic bent. I guess there are a fair few people matching that description in this community?
Nevertheless, I find great value in these teachings on mindfulness and meditation that come from Buddhist traditions. They have undoubtedly improved my life, including my career in programming (so much so that I started this blog).
I've been able to practice them without needing to take on any specific rituals or supernatural beliefs (so far!).
But... even though I like the materialist worldview, there's something interesting and perhaps inexplicable about the fact that there is something rather than nothing. That I appear to exist in a really awe-inspiring world, that I can be conscious of that fact and reflect upon it.
That, dare I say it, I exist in some sort of interdependent relationship with the world I'm embedded it - my volition and action and creativity have an affect on it, and it has an affect on my experience in terms of joy and suffering.
That I'm surrounded by similar conscious minds who might also know joy and suffering. That perhaps I can act in ways that might maximise joy and reduce suffering and create value in the world.
That sometimes it feels like there's something ineffable and just plain old mysterious about being alive...
I think this is the essence of my current idea of spirituality - the nature of my relationship with the universe I find myself in and how I can cultivate that relationship.
It shows up for me as a dev by considering writing code as a creative and moral act. Creating code has some kind of impact on the world around me, given that it's used by others and can hence create joy or suffering. It's a moral act because what it is used for matters. I personally wouldn't choose to write code for weapons systems for example.
So how does this show up for you? Are you aligned with one of the worlds historic spiritual traditions? Or a hardline athiest materialist with humanist principles? Or something in between?
I'm dying to know!
If you're interested in checkout out my writings about meditation for programmers, check out the articles on my blog.